Shepherd University students are learning the merits of bystander intervention to end interpersonal violence and make the campus safe for everyone.
In two events last week, students discussed the university’s program dubbed the 3Ds: direct, distract and delegate.
“Direct intervention is when you address the issue yourself, distract involves changing the subject to prevent any harassment and delegate is getting a friend or the police to intervene,” said Tony Sampson, a senior history major who co hosted a Thursday session in Boteler Hall aimed at educating students. A second event intending to create an open discussion about the merits of bystander intervention and also the issues of slut-shaming and rape culture organized by a residence assistant also was held Thursday.
Through card games and role playing, students learned different ways to handle violence with bystander intervention.
The first event, “Thirsty Thursday with your RA” started at 7:30 p.m. in the Boteler residence hall, was hosted by third year biology major Raven Webster and senior history major Tony Sampson. 13 people attended the event and helped themselves to the free food and drinks. Sampson began the event with a speech about the Ds of the university’s 3D Thursday program. “3D Thursday is Shepherd’s program to end interpersonal violence, such as sexual violence through bystander intervention,” said Sampson.
Following the speech, Sampson and Webster introduced the event. All participants were given a cup with a number on the bottom. The number indicated a scenario that the person would be asked to respond to with a form of bystander intervention for a candy prize. Freshman biochemistry major Katlyn Beabout was asked what she would do if a male friend told her that an ex-girlfriend was stalking and threatening him. “I would tell him to call the police or contact counseling,” she said.
Participants also entered a raffle to win 3D Thursday shirts and bandanas. The event was organized by Sampson and Webster, who reached out to councilor Rhonda Jackson for the shirts, bandanas and scenarios.
The second event took place at 9 p.m. in Shaw residence hall and was hosted by fourth year public history major Shelby Jacobs.
The event, titled “Society Against Humanity,” involved free hot chocolate and a play through of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity with custom made cards by Jacobs.
Nine people attended the event which Jacobs began by listing places people can go for help with issues such as sexual harassment or stalking. “I have divided this list into two categories, confidential and private,” said Jacobs. “I know they sound similar, but confidential sources like counseling services, the health center and the intimate partner violence coordinator, Rhonda Jackson, can’t tell anyone without your permission; while private resources like RAs, Shepherd Police, or a dean have to record details, such as names that you give them.”
Jacobs’s card game included many cards that she said were meant to be fun or silly, such as “Koalas with Chlamydia” or “Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked trailer” and cards that were meant to spark serious discussion such as “slut” or bitch.” “These words have a lot of connotations towards women and are harmful to both men and women,” said Jacobs. After an hour of gameplay, freshman sports and recreation major Brianna Dawson was declared the winner. “It was a lot of fun, and we talked about important things,” she said.
Afterword, Jacobs discussed the difficulty in getting students to talk about issues like sexual harassment with a fellow RA, third year art education major Jacob Tyler-Mellow. “I hosted a program about bystander intervention recently where we watched scenes of sexual assault in horror movies and attempted to discuss ways in which bystander intervention can help stop these crimes,” he said. “The attendees were mostly male, and while women can be the perpetrators of sexual assault, it is generally a crime associated with men, and I think that the discussion of the topic may come off as accusatory.” Tyler-Mellow concluded by saying that despite the difficulty creating conversation on the topic, he feels that it is a necessary step in ending such crimes.
Students can use RamPulse, found on shepherd.edu to get information on upcoming RA programs and contact Rhonda Jackson for more information about the university’s 3D Thursday initiative.